Argentina’s former President Carlos Menem was ordered on Friday to stand trial for obstructing justice in an investigation over the 1994 bombing of a Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires, Argentinian media reported on Saturday.
Menem was president at the time of the bombing of the Argentine Israeli Mutual Association building in Buenos Aires, in which 85 people were killed and hundreds were injured.
Menem, who is now 81, and served as president from 1989 to 1999, was initially charged in 2009 with hiding and tampering with evidence and abusing his position to cover up the involvement of Syrian-Argentine businessman Alberto Kanoore Edul in the bombing. Edul was a family acquaintance of Menem’s, who is also a Syrian-Argentine.
In his statement, federal judge Ariel Lijo alluded to what is referred to as the “Syrian connection,” according to a report in Argentine newspaper, La Voz.
It is also thought that Menem and his associates tampered with evidence that pointed to the involvement of Moshen Rabbani, then cultural attache of the Iranian embassy in Buenos Aires, in the attack, according to the newspaper.
In a statement, Lijo said that the ex-President was the main driving force behind the obstruction of the evidence against Kanoore Edul, as well as against Moshen Rabbani and his associates.
Lijo ordered that Menem and a number of other former officials be put on trial, including former judge Juan Jose Galeano, who was in charge of the initial investigation into the attack. The other former officials named were Hugo Alfredo Anzorreguy, former head of the intelligence service under Menem, his deputy Juan Carlos Anchezar, and two former police commanders, according to reports in the Argentinean media.
In 2007, Argentine authorities secured Interpol arrest warrants for five Iranians and a Lebanese in connection with the attack. Tehran denied links to the bombing but offered talks with Argentina last July to start "shedding light" on the case.
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